How to Care for Herbs in Your Garden
Nothing improves the taste of a homemade meal like the flavor of fresh herbs.
Every cook should learn how to care for herbs so that they can have uninhibited access to fresh herbs at all times. Whether you live in house with a sprawling yard or an apartment with just a fire escape, you can learn how to care for herbs so that you always have a constant supply.
How to Care for Herbs: Planting
Herbs should be planted in the spring after the final frost of the season. You can plant your herbs in a garden outdoors or in pots on your deck. Since herbs are smaller plants, they are easy to grow anywhere that receives ample light. Herbs may also be grown indoors by a bright window. Where and how you plant your herbs is up to you.
If you are new to gardening, it is best to purchase herbs from seedlings rather than attempting to grow them from seed. Basil is considered the beginner’s herb, because it is not only easy to grow, but it helps teach the novice gardener about pruning.
How to Care for Herbs: Watering
In learning how to care for herbs, one must master the art of watering them. Herbs will not do well with overwatering, but a plant that is too dry will hold less flavor. When you care for herbs in your garden, try to water them once every morning. This allots the entire day for the plants to dry out, since they prefer to be dry, but not so arid that it will kill the herb.
How to Care for Herbs: Harvesting
Good news for the avid foodie… herbs like it when you harvest them! So there is no need to be concerned about using too much of the plant in your cooking. Just be sure that a few leaves are left, since the only way that a plant absorbs sunlight is through its leaves.
Pluck the younger, upper leaves before harvesting the larger ones. While this may seem counterproductive, the smaller leaves are actually more flavorful and it is better for the health of the plant. The bigger leaves allow for better sunlight absorption. Additionally, if you continually pull from the lower half of the plant, it will become top heavy.
How to Care for Herbs: Pruning
Especially with herbs like basil, the plant will eventually stop growing and begin to flower. Prune flowering portions of the plant on a regular basis in order to encourage continued growth and prevent bolting. After a plant has bolted, the leaves will lose their flavor and mass. It is of vital importance to prune plants before they begin to bolt, as it may stop growing altogether once this has occurred.
We at Salem Cross Inn love cooking with fresh herbs so much that we grow our own herb garden for use in the restaurant! We encourage you to come by and taste our garden-fresh cooking. Make a reservation today!
Would you like to share your experience on how to care for herbs? Let us know about your own herb garden in the comment section below!